For clubs and associations

Official retention

Officiating in Australia and elsewhere, tend to have a high rate of turnover, particularly at the grass-roots level of sports. Several factors are believed, to combine, to cause the high turnover rate, including:

  • Stage of Life – younger people tend to leave officiating within the first 5 years of participation
  • Compatibility with other activates and commitment – sometime too much is expected from too few
  • Reaction to stresses in officiating
  • Abuse and harassment
  • Lack of support form sporting organisations
  • Lack of clear career path
  • Other organisational, cultural and social issues

Clubs & regional associations have a strong influence at grassroots levels. Successful clubs and associations have found that the best way to retain is to insure there are resources and strategies in the following:

  • Recognise
  • Reward
  • Develop

Here are a few tips that will help to retain officials for your organisation;

  • Within your organisation assign the portfolio of sports officials as you currently do for player volunteer and coaches.
  • Ensure there are facilities and resources available to sports officials
  • Assign a mentor to each new official; this mentor may be an experience official or a person who can provide a listening ear but needs to have the skills to provide regular and appropriate feedback on their performance
  • Put in place some strategies to recognise their officials
  • Appoint an officials development officer/coordinator or manager to support mentors and officials. The skills and abilities of officiating coordinators is a key determinant in the recruitment, development and retention of sports officials at the local level
  • Provide training for officials that includes hands –on conflict resolution sessions and coping mechanisms for dealing with trauma of abuse
  • Provide coach and player education on working with sports officials to minimise incidents of abuse
  • Provide training and accreditation opportunities for rural and regional officials
  • Understand not all sports officials are seeking career advancement
  • Sports should adopt a tough stance on abuse  when it moves beyond the banter of the game
  • Clear and transparent career paths developed and communicated to entry-level officials
  • Monitor the recruitment and retention of sports officials
  • Adopt a more flexible approach to the rostering of officials

When an official leaves your organisation, this is an ideal time to gather feedback about the official’s experience.

Evaluating the reasons why an official leaves an organisation or does not return the following year can be invaluable for improving your officiating management practices.

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Last updated: 02 June 2017